Gerard Cowley-Tuioti of Vaiusu and Saleloga was named the Most Valuable Player at the inaugural Super Rugby game in Apia where Auckland Blues beat the Queensland Reds.
The MVP was honored however humbled and noted that it was a team effort.
“Big credit to all the boys, my big focus was to do my role and now that I am named MVP, were very proud as well as it was a team effort,” he said.
“But I’m fortunate to get it here in Samoa, in front of my family.”
Cowley-Tuioti told Samoa Observer about the challenges of the weather and the impact it had on them.
“It was definitely the heat, it was a big challenge for us boys, especially just getting here yesterday. The boys really pulled through, especially in the last half, some good effort out there and managed to get the win.”
Cowley-Tuioti is the son of Helen Cowley Vaiusu and Milo Tuioti, Salelologa. According to the Blues website, Cowley-Tuioti was called into the Blues in 2015 for training cover following standout performances for the Blues Development XV.
“He enjoyed a strong provincial season for North Harbour to earn a fulltime place in the Blues 2016 squad, making his debut late in the season. “Gerard has been a stand-out for Harbour in the Mitre 10 Cup and will be looking to push for more game time in 2017. “He is noted for his physicality and work ethic.”
Gerard is an Old Boy of Massey High and Kelston Boys, helping Kelston get to a 1A semi-final in 2010.” Blues Captain James Parson, said their win was an “ugly win” nonetheless he was happy with the performance by the younger players.
“I was really happy and we brought a really young side over and gave an opportunity to show what they’ve got and if you look at the second half, a lot of our senior players were off the field. “And these young guys stepped up and brought it home for us and it was big result.
I know it wasn’t a big score, but for us as a group and growing them and keeping our score going forward is a massive result for us.”
Proud of the younger players, Parson said the new players can hold their heads really high and “obviously its going to be more intense games and more opportunities for them in the future and I think they’ll learn a lot from that. We didn’t execute everything perfectly but, what we did do, was go out our way to make up the results.... and ugly wins are sometimes sort of the best wins to learn from.”
He said that he played a role in the lack of performance on the field Friday evening. “Of course the weather, we’re not use to it, the Reds is probably more use to it for this sort of humidity.
We tried to play our style of rugby in that first half and that’s why we probably made the changes as early as possible as we did. And in the end we came up on top and probably because we made those changes,” said Parson.
Head Coach Tana Umaga also spoke about the performance by the young players. “It was a bit on and off a little bit, we made a few errors, and every time Red scores and we let them back in and that’s rugby. I suppose that the best thing for us is that we were able to say in the game. And having on young players, you stood up and showed resilience and fought for us.”
“We’ve been proud and humbled by the amount of people coming out to us, and although its not the first big game, we’ve had the All Blacks here, and now we’re here for the Super Rugby games, I think we should continue to draw more big games to Samoa.”
We would love to come back if we could, and if we have the opportunity to do that, we will. I’m sure there are people with those decision who are sitting higher than me, and they have seen all that went down here, Im sure we could do something like that again.”